In ‘Emerald Forest and the Blackbird’ – Finland’s Swallow the Sun have delivered their magnum opus. This album is quite simply dazzling and a natural progression from New Moon. 2010’s European trek with alternative metal giants Katatonia has enabled the quintet to become a ferociously well oiled machine. Vocalist Mikko Kotamäki (arguably the best in the business) will no doubt be recognisable to some of you as the front man of Finnish ‘supergroup’ Barren Earth; however he has been fronting Swallow the Sun since their inception in the millennium year. The impressive production of Mikko Karmila (Nightwish, Children of Bodom) and Hannu Honkonen (Waltari, Soulfallen) does not deter from the aptitude of the Finns, more that it compliments them impeccably. Title track ‘Emerald Forest and the Blackbird’ is a flawless example of how effortlessly Swallow the Sun can transform from melancholy to fury in the blink of an eye. They smoulder perfectly before detonating in a wall of ferociousness. ‘Cathedral Walls’ has a striking bass-line and hauntingly beautiful guest vocals from Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon. She puts in a wonderful performance, gelling with Kotamäki exquisitely. ‘Labyrinth of London (Horror pt. IV)’ is the latest instalment of the Horror series. It features the 1794 poem ‘London’ by William Blake, which works well with Juha Raivio’s writing. ‘Of Death and Corruption’ is abundant with melodies, much like the whole album there is no recycling of riffs, highlighting the creative promise of the group. Without hesitation this has to be the album of the year so far. The only question left to ask is, how do they top this?
August 17, 2012
Swallow the Sun – Emerald Forest and the Blackbird
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